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Athyrium filix-femina spp. asplenioides

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Polypodium filix-femina
Phonetic Spelling
a-THEE-ree-um FEE-liks FEM-in-a SUB-spee-shees a-SPLEN-e-oy-dees
Description

Athyrium filix-femina, commonly called lady fern, is a deciduous fern that features lacy-cut, erect or ascending, 2 to 3-pinnate or pinnatifid, finely-divided, lanceolate, light green fronds which grow in a dense circular shuttlecock-like clump to 2-3' tall. Each frond (leaf) has twenty to thirty pairs of elliptic non-opposite pinna (leaflets) with narrow pointed tips. Each pinna is divided into deeply-cut lanceolate to oblong pinnules (subleaflets). Sori and indusia are found on the undersides of the pinnules. This is a circumglobal species which is found in rich moist woods, thickets, fields, meadows and ravines throughout northern North America, Europe and Asia.

Subsp. asplenioides, commonly called southern lady fern, is native from Maine to Florida and Texas. Subsp. asplenioides primarily differs from the species by (a) brown spores, (b) upright to creeping rhizomes, (c) frond width is greatest near the base of the frond, and (d) stipe (stem) length is shorter than the blade length.

Genus name comes from Greek athyros meaning doorless in reference to the slowly opening hinged indusia (spore covers).  Specific epithet comes from Latin filix meaning fern and femina meaning woman as confirmed by the common name of lady fern.

It is easily grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Tolerates drier soils than many other ferns. Will tolerate full sun, however, only if the soil is kept constantly moist. Divide clumps in spring every few years to reposition crowns at the soil level.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems. Shelter from wind to protect fronds from breaking. Fronds frequently become somewhat tattered in appearance by mid-summer.

Family name Dryopteridaceae (Polypodiaceae)

The fronds are twice-pinnate-pinnatifid, and the stipes of uncoiling fiddleheads may sometimes have a rosy color. There is little difference between sterile and fertile fronds, although the fertile ones are taller with slightly more constricted lamina. The plant forms a false crown from a creeping rootstock. The southern lady fern prefers seeps, where its feet may be in water. It may grow either in woods or in the open, and may form a dense colony in the open where its rhizome is always wet. The southern lady fern thrives in the garden, given any reasonably good soil and will make a dense stand over time.

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#heavy shade#shade tolerant#shade garden#full shade#fern#low maintenance#rabbit resistant#well-drained soil#native garden#woodland#fantz
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#heavy shade#shade tolerant#shade garden#full shade#fern#low maintenance#rabbit resistant#well-drained soil#native garden#woodland#fantz
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Athyrium
    Species:
    filix-femina
    Family:
    Athyriaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern North America
    Distribution:
    ME to FL and west to TX
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant provides ground cover and its parts are used in bird nest construction.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is seldom damaged by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Fern
    Native Plant
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    There is little difference between sterile and fertile fronds. The fronds feature a feathery lacey texture with pinnate or pinnatifid lanceolate light green fronds. Each frond contains 20-30 elliptic pinna (leaflets) with pointed tips that are not directly opposite to eachother. Each pinna is then subdivided into lanceolate to oblong pinnules (subleaflets) where the brown sori (spores) are found on the underside.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Riparian
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade
    Rabbits